Think he deserves it?
Wagering on potential over past results, the Portland Trail Blazers surprised no one and have sent a qualifying offer of $8.8 million to talented/fragile center Greg Oden. Despite only 82 games played, and more knee surgeries than playoff wins, Oden is still a valuable commodity in the league and part of the Blazers' future. The single season offer makes Oden a restricted free agent, meaning the Blazers hold right of first refusal if another team wants to pay him more.
If Portland did not offer the qualifying deal, Oden would then be an unrestricted free agent, sign with Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, win five consecutive championships, then sign with the Lakers, win five more rings, and then open Walmarts all throughout the city of Portland. At least, that's what everyone fears would happen.
The team also extended a (non-guaranteed) qualifying offer to Patty Mills—who will be heartbroken without his BFF Rudy Fernandez—along with exercising the third-year option on injured guard Elliot Williams and the Idaho Stampede's Luke Babbitt. Press release after the jump.
TRAIL BLAZERS EXTEND QUALIFYING OFFER TO GREG ODEN
Team also extends offer to Patrick Mills, exercises third-year options
on Luke Babbitt and Elliot Williams
PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Trail Blazers have extended a qualifying offer to center Greg Oden, it was announced today by the team. Portland has also extended a qualifying offer to guard Patrick Mills and exercised its third-year options on forward Luke Babbitt and guard Elliot Williams.
Both Oden and Mills become restricted free agents, ensuring that the Trail Blazers will have right of first refusal should another team try to sign them. The moves give Portland the right to match any contract offer they receive in the offseason.
"We've stood behind Greg Oden every day since he became a Trail Blazer and that continues with today's announcement," said Trail Blazers President Larry Miller . "Despite the setbacks he's experienced, he continues to be resilient in working tirelessly on his rehabilitation. We're all very encouraged with not only his progress, but with his commitment and determination to return to the basketball court."
Oden, 23, is averaging 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.43 blocked shots to go with a 57.7% (290-for-503) mark from the floor in four seasons with the Trail Blazers.
Mills, 22, has appeared in 74 games over two seasons in Portland, averaging 5.1 points, 0.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists.
A rookie last season, Babbitt, 22, notched averages of 1.5 points, 1.3 rebounds and 5.7 minutes in 24 games. Acquired by Portland in a draft day trade on June 24, 2010, he also averaged 20.1 points and 7.4 rebounds in 14 games with the NBA D-League's Idaho Stampede.
Williams, 22, missed his rookie 2010-11 season due to surgeries on both knees. Portland selected him with the 22nd overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft out of Memphis.